We can only speculate about the future of electric motorcycles. But as of 2012, one thing is certain: you'll have to pay a premium for cutting edge battery-powered bikes.
Two years ago, Brammo's Empulse promised 100 mph and 100 miles of range for under $10,000. But last night, at the bike's official unveiling in Hollywood, California, the much-anticipated Empulse proved surprisingly pricey: $16,995, or $18,995 for a carbon-fiber skinned "R" version. Both bikes pack a 9.31 kWh battery producing the equivalent of 54 horsepower, and a six-speed manual transmission with a hydraulic clutch.
Regenerative braking helps the 100+ mph Empulse claim a 121 mile city range or 56 miles on the highway, for a combined estimate of 77 miles; in contrast, Zero's most powerful S model is just behind the Empulse with an estimated 114 miles in the city, or 63 miles on the highway, with a maximum speed of 88 mph, or 75 mph sustained. The Zero comes with a $13,995 premium, a full $3,000 less than the Brammo.
Are internal combustion bikes in imminent danger of becoming obsoleted by electric motorcycles? Not yet, at least with this sort of pricing... but I've got a new Zero S I'm testing at the moment, and will soon offer my thoughts on whether or not this new crop of battery-powered rides are worth the premium.
- What's it Like to Live with an Electric Motorcycle?
- How a Buell Veteran Landed in the Electric Motorcycle Business
- 2011 Zero S Review: The Electric Motorcycle Grows Up... Sorta
- Photo Gallery: Brammo's sub-$10,000, 100 mph Electric Empulse (circa 2010)
Photo © Basem Wasef